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Ian Bogost: Why Debates About Video Games Aren't Really About Video Games

By Ian Bogost

After the Supreme Court announced its decision regarding a California law that would have imposed state limitations on children's access to certain video games, a deluge of reactions flooded the Internet. A Google News search shows the variety of opinions, which range from celebration of video games' affirmed first amendment rights to lamentations of the victory of violence and gore.

Shortly after that decision, I encountered the general public's attitudes toward games as speech, thanks to two reactions (one positive, one negative) to my ongoing work on newsgames.

The positive response is a lengthy article by Laura Bennett in Independence Day weekend's Boston Globe. It offers a detailed overview of the concept of newsgames (mostly drawn from our book on the subject), along with discussion of a number of examples. It also covers Jane McGonigal's approach to "urgently optimistic" game design, along with mentions of related projects from Jim Gee, ImpactGames, and others, not to mention a brief overview of the history of games with political themes, stretching back to the 1980s. When it comes to mainstream newspaper coverage, it doesn't get much better than this.

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